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2004-10-17
Winslow, AZ. Residents Don't Want Wal-Mart Standing On Their Corner.

If you're standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, what are the chances you'll see a Wal-Mart supercenter? For many local residents, the 65,930 s.f. Wal-Mart discount store the city already has is one more than enough, and a supercenter coming is not "such a lovely sight to see." Wal-Mart this week confirmed that they hope to replace their existing store with a 158,067 s.f. supercenter -- within spitting distance of each other. "The Supercenter will be built behind the existing store and once it is completed the existing store will be demolished," a Wal-Mart spokesman told the Winslow Mail newspaper. City officials claim they have not had "official" meetings with Wal-Mart, and no proposal for a supercenter has been filed, but this is just a game of semantics. City Administrator John Roche admitted to the Mail that he had conducted meetings with Wal-Mart's subcontractors about site specific details of the project. "We have not talked officially with Wal-Mart," the City Administrator said. "We talked with their engineers." The Mayor tried to downplay these private meetings by saying, "All they have done, I assume it was their engineering department, was stopped by more or less for a courtesy visit." Wal-Mart may be accelerating their timetable, as they perceive other Arizona communities taking action to block big box stores. The City Council in Flagstaff, Arizona recently adopted an ordinance that caps the size of retail stores at 125,000 s.f., requires a conditional use permit for anything larger than 75,000 s.f., and limits to 8% the amount of floor space a retailer could devote to non-taxable items, such as groceries. The Flagstaff ordinance is similar to many ordinance adopted in California cities and towns over the past two years. The Flagstaff ordinance is relevant to Wal-Mart in Winslow, because Winslow City Councilor Judy Howell has stated her intention to file a similar ordinance in her town. "While we don't have anyone to raise a great big fuss on creating a big box (ordinance), let's get it in place," she was quoted by the Mail. "When companies come and look at Winslow they'll know what the zoning and ordinances are. We already have one big box standing empty that is way too expensive for anyone to come in and rent. Most big boxes that are going to come in are going to build their own buildings." City officials have stated that the land Wal-Mart wants for a superstore is zoned for commercial use. The Mayor of Winslow appears to be eager to duck the issue of a big box ordinance. "My preference on that would be to refer it to the vote of the people," he said. "For every person that comes before us and raises objections, I have that many or more that tell me privately, that they would welcome it." The current Wal-Mart store is about one and a half times the size of a football field. Wal-Mart is trying to rent up an empty Wal-Mart they just created in Yuma, Arizona. That store is around 75,000 s.f., and will be available in several weeks. Many of the "early" Arizona stores, which opened at the very end of the 1980s, are slated for mothballs by the retailer.

What you can do: What does Winslow get from demolishing its old Wal-Mart, and building a supercenter? For Wal-Mart stockholders, it means more market share in Winslow, but for taxpayers in Winslow, it means more empty buildings, like the Kmart that now stands empty, more businesses that shut down, loss of jobs, and revenues. In short, just a game of retail musical chairs. So if you're standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, join the effort to keep the Wal-Mart supercenter off the corner. For local contacts fighting this proposal, contact info@sprawl-busters.com.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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